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PS5 and Xbox Series X releases likely to be delayed

Published Mar 15th, 2020 11:18AM EDT
PS5 Release Date
Image: Iren Key/Shutterstock

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  • PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are two of the most anticipated products of the year, next-gen console upgrades that have been seven years in the making.
  • Expected to be released this holiday season, the PS5 and new Xbox might be delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The worldwide response to the COVID-19 outbreak will have a tremendous impact on the economy in the coming months, and the production of non-essential goods, like the 2020 consoles, might suffer as well.
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The PS5 and Xbox Series X are expected to be released ahead of the holidays this year, according to Sony and Microsoft’s official announcements. However, those tentative launch windows haven’t been updated since before the novel coronavirus outbreak started in China, and the actual launches of the PS5 and Xbox Series X may be severely affected by the pandemic. As the outbreak crippled China earlier this year, several reports emerged revealing that factory closures might hurt the production of several popular products, including the latest iPhones and the Nintendo Switch consoles. Analysts said that the PS5 and Xbox launches may see delays and stock issues as a result.

Sony and Microsoft partner AMD recently suggested that both consoles will be released on schedule, and that may still be accurate. Both companies could always go forward with announcements, and they may still ship the PS5 and Xbox on time. But don’t expect a smooth launch for either video game console given what’s happening around the world right now.

The past few weeks have proven, if you were still unconvinced, that the COVID-19 threat is real and the way to fight it until a specific treatment or vaccine is available is to avoid social interaction and employ excellent personal hygiene. The former is vital for curbing infections and preventing the collapse of medical systems. The goal of several governments around the world is to ensure that the number of patients doesn’t exceed the number of available beds and ventilation systems that are required to treat COVID-19 coronavirus patients. The only way to do that is for everyone to stay indoors as much as possible and reduce non-essential travel.

The US has declared a national emergency and banned flights from Europe. Italy is on complete lockdown. Switzerland and Austria have shut their borders with Italy. Several European countries, including Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, have declared national emergencies as well. Poland and Moldova have banned flights. Ukraine shut its borders to foreigners. France and Spain have announced severe restrictions stopping short of declaring national emergencies themselves.

These disruptions to normal life would impact any new product launch, no matter if it’s the upcoming Pixel 4a or the PlayStation 5 and new Xbox. Depending on how the fight against the epidemic progresses, people might not be able to buy any new products in the coming months, even if factories in Asia resume production at full output. Only essential businesses, including grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and hospitals, will remain open in certain countries, and none of those sell video game consoles.

The pandemic will also obviously have a massive impact on the economy, and many people will avoid the luxury of buying a $499 console this year.

Image source: Xbox

With all of that in mind, claims from analysts that the new consoles will likely be delayed make perfect sense. DFC Intelligence released a new forecast for the new consoles, Forbes reports, saying that it expects both consoles to be delayed:

Coronavirus is likely to have a major short-term impact on the delivery of both systems. There is a strong likelihood one or both systems will not make a 2020 launch. If the systems do launch, supply will likely be constrained, and initial pricing could be higher than expected.

Currently, the economy is in an unprecedented state of uncertainty. Even if the situation clears up in a few weeks, the ability to manufacture and release a high-end new game system has already been severely impacted.

Sony and Microsoft might continue to make PS5 and Xbox Series announcements this year and the pressure is still on Sony to reveal the PlayStation 5 design as well as its specs, two things that Microsoft has already done. Release details will likely be made official fairly soon, even if the consoles won’t hit store shelves ahead of the holidays this year.

The DFC Intelligence note also suggests that demand will be stronger than ever after the consoles finally do launch:

The good news is that consumer demand is likely to be stronger than ever. Demand will far exceed supply and long-term that could increase overall sales. In addition, the abundance of government and public caution should help assure this is a comparatively short-term crisis.

Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will release to record consumer demand. The challenge Sony and Microsoft face are making sure they release systems that meet expectations. Given the current situation, waiting to make sure they get the initial product right is the most prudent choice.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.